SPRINGFIELD, Vt. and BRATTLEBORO, Vt., Aug. 11, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- A pair of autistic twins whose behavior, school attendance, and hygiene problems nearly exhausted efforts by educators and their own parents; a boy whose constant school absence and untreated ringworm were symptoms of his mother's hoarding and health issues; a quiet, 14-year-old girl who suffered physical and mental abuse from her alcoholic mother – these are just three cases of southern Vermont families in crisis that might have concluded with youngsters removed from their homes and placed into state custody.
Instead, all three cases and hundreds like them in Brattleboro and Springfield have ended far happier, thanks to the efforts of Healthcare & Rehabilitation Services of Southeastern Vermont (HCRS), funding from the Vermont Department of Children & Families (DCF), and a program called Intensive Family Based Services (IFBS).
HCRS is the second largest of Vermont's 11 designated agencies and serves communities across Windham and Windsor Counties.
The IFBS model uses brief (13 to 18 weeks), intensive, in-the-home family-support services with a clinical focus to help keep children safe in their homes while also preventing unnecessary separations from their families. IFBS clinicians are trained to work with families victimized by rapidly increasing addiction and substance abuse challenges.
DCF first awarded HCRS funding to support IFBS in Springfield in 1989. Last March – with the number of Vermont child abuse and neglect filings jumping 62 percent between 2010 and 2015 – DCF also selected HCRS to provide IFBS in Brattleboro. The award was based on an historically close and productive relationship between HCRS and DCF and also on the success of the agency's Springfield program.
"HCRS is committed to helping children and families stay together in the community, so we provide services that reduce the chances of kids being placed in foster care, residential programs, or hospital settings," said Will Shakespeare, HCRS Director of Children, Youth, and Family Services. "We also help youngsters re-enter their communities and reunite with their families by building a system of family supports. We believe that families have strengths and abilities that make them the best settings for their children to grow."
The services begin with an assessment of each family's needs, capacities and willingness to engage in the process, and current levels of risk to children. Based on the assessment, HCRS constructs a plan of care, which includes setting measurable goals for improving parenting skills, helping parents to manage their children's behavior, promoting safe and effective family meetings, and providing referrals to other community resources. All families are provided HCRS' round-the-clock crisis intervention and behavioral support services.
"DCF is excited to partner with HCRS to provide these services to families in Windham County," said Susan O'Brien, District Director of DCF's Brattleboro Family Services Office. "The rise in the number of children coming into DCF custody reflects the need for such intensive in-home services to give parents the opportunity to address their issues so they can safely parent their children."
Founded in 1967, HCRS is a non-profit, community mental health agency serving Vermonters in Windham and Windsor counties. HCRS serves over 4,000 individuals every year through its mental health, substance abuse, and developmental disabilities programs. The Agency provides holistic care for clients, supporting them with employment, housing, transportation, and other social service needs. Visit www.hcrs.org for more information.
SOURCE Health Care & Rehabilitation Services